Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Organization Theory

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeGOV320
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

The objective of the course is to help the student understand and use organization theory to analyze public policies and administration in an independent and critical way. This provides advanced knowledge about different theoretical perspectives and traditions, and on how different organization forms and instruments are used in practice. Both classic and newer contributions to organization theory and institutional theory are central. The aim is to prepare the student for independent use of different theoretical traditions in the empirical analysis relevant to a master thesis. Organization theory at the Masters level has a more advanced objective than at the bachelor-level in a double sense. The course is designed to help the student to: 1) use organization theory in her own research, 2) gain a deeper and clearer understanding of the basic concepts and the development of different theoretical perspectives geared at clarifying different kinds of research problems, 3) identify contributions that lie at the forefront of the research field internationally.

The course builds on four core aspects of the field.

  1. Central topics and problems in both classic and newer contributions to the study of formal organizations.
  2. Historical trends in organization theory, in particular in relation to the study of public administration and politics.
  3. Organization theory approaches that relate the study of public administration and politics
  4. Empirical studies of organizing and organizations in (or relevant to) the public sector

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • has in-depth and advanced knowledge of new organizational and institutional theory
  • can give a systematic overview of new organizational and institutional theory and how this theory is used to study public administration and policy.
  • can give an account of the historical development of the field of research and discipline
  • can use the knowledge to analyze relevant research and policy questions starting from the history and particularities of the research field


The student

  • can develop and present critical analysis of relevant literature
  • can discuss and assess the relevance of academic and professional contributions to the field concerning different policy problems
  • can provide a systematic understanding of a theoretical field
  • can use organizational and institutional theory in conducting own independent research

General competence

The student

  • can use her/his knowledge and skills on new areas and topics
  • can make independent and professional assessments of relevant organizations and institutional arrangements
  • can communicate and discuss advanced and professional arguments with a broader community
  • can provide practical applications of theory through written and oral presentations and in discussions with relevant actors in public policy and administration
  • can contribute to the development of the research area and academic field

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

AORG101, AORG104, AORG103 / AORG107, AORG215

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap

  • AORG320A (10 ECTS)
  • AORG320B (10 ECTS)
  • AORG318 (10 ECTS)
  • AORG320 (10 ECTS)

Access to the Course

The course is open for students who have been accepted to the Master's programme in public administration. Exchange students may be accepted upon application.

Teaching and learning methods

6-8 lectures and 3-4 seminars. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Presentation of a shorter essay (2000 - 2500 words) based on a syllabus related topic. In addition, each student is required to at least one time comment on another students┬┤ oral/written presentation.

The compulsory assignment must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and following two semesters.

Forms of Assessment

Take home exam, 3 days, approximately 5000 words (+/- 10%)

Grading Scale

Graded A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester. Students who have a valid document of absence or fails the exam may take a new exam in the following semester.

Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.

Course Administrator

Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.

Exam information